Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Second Love

If you’re like me, your first one is tough to get over, the thought of it makes it tough to get out of bed, and it can keep you from being able to move on to your second. Love? No, I’m talking about miles when I run. Thankfully I convinced my first love to marry me and am still happily married today. But the first mile, that nasty little lady still haunts me every day that I run.

Granted, I’m fairly new to this whole idea of being a serious runner. I was a 5′11 240 lb offensive lineman in high school and that’s the mindset I kept for most of my 20’s. When I hit 3o, I realized that actually translated into a 6′1 230 lb fat tub of goo. Something had to change so I turned to running.
My problem with running, though, was that stinking first mile. I hated it (and still do). The shooting pain in my side, the aches in my knees and ankles, the trouble getting my breathing under control. Seemed like it didn’t matter whether I ran in the morning or evening; whether I stretched before I ran or not; or any other tips or tricks that were out there…I just hated mile one. If every mile was going to feel like this, there was no way I could run a 5K, let alone anything longer. Thankfully, I pushed myself and kept running even though my body and mind were telling me, “Let’s go back to the couch and watch some Seinfeld reruns.” That’s when it happened, I met my second love.

The second mile, she’s a different story. No matter how far I run on a given day, (usually 3-5 miles) I never feel better than I do during that second mile. While mile one is nothing but pain and suffering, mile two makes me feel almost euphoric. My breathing evens out, a good steady stream of sweat begins to pour out of my body, my joints and muscles all loosen up, and my mind begins to get filled with those wonderful little chemicals called endorphins. If I felt as good as I do during mile two, I could be an ultra-marathon runner with no problems. (Sadly, mile one’s cousin, the last mile, is headed my direction but that’s for a different blog).

As I was running the other day (and cursing mile one yet again) it occurred to me that my struggles with mile one and my love of mile two was a great metaphor for many aspects of my life. If many of us had stopped doing something after the first time we tried it, our lives would be very different, and probably much worse.
For example, if I had made up my mind about teaching after my first year, there’s no way I would have stepped foot back into the classroom. That first year in the classroom I spent most of my time about one day ahead of the kids and my classroom management was atrocious. I can remember thinking, “there’s no way I can do this for another 29 years.” The first time most of us got behind the wheel of a car probably wasn’t our finest driving moment. Mine wasn’t and the transmission on my dad’s 1980 Ford truck can vouch for that. Heck, even our first kiss was most likely not a real romantic experience.

But the more I taught, the more I fell in love with the profession and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. The more I drove, the better I got, to the point that my wife only corrects me once or twice every road trip. (love ya, honey) The more I kissed…well, you get where I’m going.
I guess my point is that I’m so glad that I didn’t turn around after mile one that fateful day and discovered how much I love mile two. Just like I’m so glad I stuck it out with many things in my life even though they were difficult at first. Too many people today simply quit things once they get a little bit tough. We are in an “instant gratification” society where if we don’t like, or get, something right now, we’re going to move on to something else. Running has taught me that while I may be also guilty of this at times, the best things in life are best enjoyed after a few trials and tribulations to get there.


  1. Mike,
    You just hit one of my "soapboxes" with your mention of our "instant gratification" society. It is so true that we seem to have lost our ability and drive to work through those initial tough times. You are so right about the best things are the ones that come after we conquer those challenges. Thanks so much for joining us!

  2. I wish I could run! Massage therapist said my knee and back muscles are too bad and the jarring would make them worse. Tried a little job but I have a problem controlling my breathing, which I know tires me out and causes a little pain. Any suggestions on breathing techniques?

  3. Hey Monise, thanks for the comment. That's too bad about your knee and back muscles. I have a hard time with my breathing for the first mile or so so I might not have the best advice. One thing I've always tried to do with any cardio exercise is to try to concentrate on the breathing-in (taking long, deep breathes) and not worrying about the breathing-out. Hope that helps a little. Thanks again for reading my blog.